A Trinamul delegation, which on Sunday visited Bagda, North 24-Parganas, in the wake of the rape of a woman allegedly by two BSF jawans, accused some BJP leaders of too much indulgence to the central forces on the border.
Trinamul state general-secretary Kunal Ghosh, who led the team, alleged that some BJP leaders came here and “treated the BSF as the main authority (rajar paat diye diyechhe)” and emboldened by such indulgence, the forces unleash excesses on people in the border areas of Bengal.
On Thursday night, a woman from Basirhat but married in Bangladesh, who was trying to cross the border, was allegedly raped by the two BSF jawans in Bagda. “The incident of the rape of the helpless woman is just the tip of the iceberg. We talked to people and understood that there are many such incidents that the people can’t disclose out of fear of the BSF,” Ghosh told the media, adding that his party would soon start collecting information on atrocities reportedly by the BSF.
“We are not against the BSF. But if an armed force unleashes a panic among people, particularly women, it is most unfortunate and it can’t be allowed to continue for long...,” Ghosh said.
“Let the BJP leaders and the National Women Commission come here and see how people, mainly women, are living with fear,” Ghosh added.Ghosh apart, ministers Partha Bhowmik and Sashi Panja, Barasat MP Kakali Ghosh Dastidar visited Bagda and met villagers in border areas.
The party also held a protest rally and a public meeting at the Kashipur gram sabha high school ground condemning the rape. Several women joined the meeting and described their harassment.“We talked to people and it appeared to us that they are living in fear. People told us how the BSF personnel often unleash atrocities. We will begin a process to collect more information. It is good that the tortured woman lodged a complaint, but people here are largely silent, which does not mean there is no such torture at all,” Ghosh said.
“We heard some incidents of atrocities here today from villagers, which are quite alarming. Women are not safe here,” Ghosh said, adding that for “obvious reasons” his party opposed the extension of BSF jurisdiction up to 50km inside the Indian territory, which the Centre sought.Minister Panja claimed some BSF personnel seek sexual favours from infiltrators.
“Women are being forced to compromise themselves. If any person illegally sneaks into Indian territory or tries to cross the border, the BSF can take legal steps. But for a such crime, a woman does not deserve to be raped.... This is horrible,” she said. “The Thursday incident is not an isolated incident; rather there are several other incidents which the women told us about today.”Renewing its attack on the BSF, the Trinamul team said “mysterious breaches” had been created on the barbed wire fencing to allow access to smugglers and infiltrators making up nexuses with touts.
“Why, despite your vigilance, are incidents of crossing the border occurring regularly? Why are there breaches on the fencing? Let the home minister (Amit Shah) reply,” said Ghosh.A senior BSF official of the South Bengal Frontier in Calcutta refused to react to Trinamul’s charges. Sources in the BSF said a report has been sent to the home ministry on the incident on Sunday.